Ducks are among my favorite animals. They are colorful, expressive in voice and body language, and in some cases very personable. They can learn to recognize people, and their antics are fun to watch. The ducklings are especially delightful. What other baby animals can scamper about, swim, eat on their own, and be as cute as the dickens, all at once, almost as soon as they pop out of their shells?
Esmerelda is a Khaki Campbell, a large, beige duck with a very pleasant personality and a deep, sonorous voice. All the children loved Esmerelda, and they would come from far and wide from day care centers to see her.
Here is a close-up of Esmerelda. She is a very good duck with beautiful brown eyes.
Esmarelda, shown here with new winter feathers, is plump and sleek.
Esmarelda is much taller than anyone else in this crowd of mallards.
Esmarelda is always interested to see if there is something to eat. She has an elegant pink bill.
Another view of Esmarelda with her sleek, new winter feathers.
Despite her large size, Esmarelda is very buoyant.
Jack, here, is a very fine wood duck. In the early spring, it was clear he was impressed with the large female mallards.
Another view of Jack. Later in the spring, Jack decided that spritely Jill was more attractive than the relatively ponderous mallards.
Jill is a female wood duck. Wood ducks are fast and agile, and can catch bread and even mosquitos in the air.
Another view of Jill. Despite his flashy plumage and eventual attentions, Jill had little patience with Jack.
This is Babs, Tubby’s girlfriend. She was a very large female mallard. With respect to relative size, she resembled her namesake, famed movie star Babs Divine. Despite their many endearing characteristics, there really isn’t much space for brains between those two eyes!
Tubby, Babs’ boyfriend, here shown with sleek, new winter feathers.
Here is another picture of Tubby, in the spring, with his feathers a little the worse for wear. One characteristic of Tubby is that his brown front feathers always seemed to be somewhat separated, as though he were bulging (which he usually was).
Slowpoke was a big white duck. His name came from his very slow reaction time going after bread and other tidbits thrown to the ducks. It took some time for him to learn about bread, but even after much practice his large size made him more ponderous than his colleagues.
Slowpoke was an odd duck. He was put on the pond as an adult in the spring. When ducklings started to hatch, he quickly attached himself to Mrs. Whitesides and her 10 ducklings. At first she didn’t like it, but eventually tolerated him quite well. He followed along just like the other ducklings. I suspect he was going through a childhood he had somehow missed. Here they are being chased by a malevolent swan.
Slowpoke is sitting down to take a nap with Mrs. Whitesides and the ducklings. It was fun to watch them wake up. Mrs. Whitesides would get up and stretch and give her wake-up call. Instantly Slowpoke would wake and follow Mrs. Whitesides into the water. As he passed the drowsy ducklings, he would give each a poke to wake them up.
Here are Mr. and Mrs. Whitesides out for a promenade. They were a devoted and inseparable couple, even during nesting and duckling season.
This is a fine view of Mrs. Whitesides. Though more somber than her male counterpart, she is a splendid bird in every respect. Mr. Whitesides is behind, missing a number of feathers that were pulled out in fights with Mr. Greenbill. They hate each other.
Another view of Mrs. Whitesides.
Mr. and Mrs Whitesides, proud parents of 10 ducklings and Slowpoke (out of the picture to the right).
Closeup of the ducklings. Aren’t they adorable?
This is a female black duck. They were somewhat rarer and more shy than the mallards, and much harder to tell apart. None of them were given names, by me anyway.
A fine male mallard in full summer plumage. Less showy than his winter plumage, but quite respectable nevertheless.
A good view of the overlapping back feathers on this male mallard in summer plumage.
Another exceptionally well-groomed male mallard in summer plumage.
A male mallard in more characteristic winter plumage, standing on ice.
A male mallard, buoyantly resting on quiet water.
A male mallard showing off his splendid green head feathers. It’s certainly no wonder why girl mallards like them.
This is Polly, a fine duck with an even personality. Her bill is more orange than that of her sister, Pinky.
A lone green-winged teal. These tiny ducks look out of place amongst the massive mallards.
American widgeon. Though somewhat smaller than the mallards, this feisty fellow would not permit any bad manners from them.